Well I had a chance to see the entire ream over the weekend when I visited Nick. I imagine that a large portion of the pleasure in the piece is actually performative. Particularly good is the fact that at the open mike where it made its debut, Nick had evidently made it clear that he had requested more time, and the MC kept alluding to this fact while reminding others that they only had 7 minutes.
Consequently, when Nick ambled up to the stage and whipped out his 500 pager, I imagine there were some concerned palpitations from the audience. Not to mention the visceral pleasure of flipping through 500 pages of poems in lightning speed.
The trick, I think, with these heavily structured poems is to incorporate a real narrative, as Nick has done, and then to bring the narrative forward enough so that it really becomes pleasurable to see the narrative functioning alongside the structural conceit.
Personally, I enjoy it when the concept and the content function mimetically – so I suppose Nick’s selection of the Raven is good because it evokes a certain madness on the writer’s part. (Or is the Raven really about a guy who had a Raven flutter into his room, Nick?)
To capture some of the performative aspect (which sounds great, by the way – would love to see Ream performed sometime) in the digital edition, the words should auto-advance at a pretty fast clip, with a voice, perhaps a synthetic voice, reading each word.